3C Institute is collaborating with Dr. Eric Pedersen of the RAND Corporation on an online course designed for students preparing to study abroad. Dr. Pedersen’s interest in young adult/adolescent alcohol use led him to develop the TREK research project, a survey-based study focused on perceptions of alcohol consumption among U.S. students preparing to study abroad. Preliminary results indicate that students assume a higher-than-accurate level of alcohol consumption among both students studying abroad and native drinkers and that these inaccurate perceptions may lead them to consume more alcohol while abroad than they might otherwise.
The study further seeks to determine what effect students’ increased alcohol consumption might have on other behaviors, including sexual behaviors and drug use.
Building on the data gathered from the study, the TREK course will seek to educate students on the actual drinking norms for the country they’ll be visiting, with the hope that disrupting their assumptions about drinking in their host country may prompt them to make safer choices when it comes to alcohol consumption and, by extension, other behaviors that may endanger their health.
On a lighter note, the course also hopes to provide students with tips on how to get the most out of their study abroad experience. Interviews with students who have studied abroad offer suggestions for adjusting to a new culture and immersing oneself in the language, customs, and celebrations of a host country.